Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Backyardigans Race Around the World

This very special episode starts with Austin training for the big race around the world. He is practicing his starts much in the same way that a marathon runner would practice his, crouching and bursting into a jog. Tasha is the judge and announcer. She tells everyone that this race around the world will take place in four stages: running, snowboarding, kayaking, and running across the desert. She makes the following announcements:

“Pablo has already won a gold medal in a running race.”

“Tyrone has already won a gold medal in snowboarding.”

“Uniqua has already won a gold medal in kayaking.”

“Austin has never won a race, but he is prepared.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m rooting for Austin. At the start of the race, Austin’s practice-starts prove futile as Pablo bolts out to a huge lead. So confident is Pablo that he stops to sing and dance about his lead. He finishes the first leg of the race well ahead of the others and begins the snowboarding leg with a little too much confidence. Meanwhile, Uniqua trips over a hurdle and hurts her knee. Pink animals are clumsy. Austin gives her a bandage from his pack, and they resume the race.

During the snowboard section, Austin finds Pablo hanging dangerously off a cliff while holding on to a slalom flag. Part of me thinks that this race is poorly marked and poorly supervised, and yet I am happy that Pablo was prepared enough to bring a rope. He pulls Pablo to safety. A few minutes later, he saves Tyrone from dangerous rocks during the kayaking event.

Despite his preparedness, Austin is in last place going in to the race across the desert. He stops to sing about it:

I want to win this race somehow
But I’m not in first place right now

I’m not in second or in third
I don’t know quite how this occurred

I’m well-prepared but I’m not fast
Instead of leading I’m in last

And I’m not happy about this, no sir
I’m not happy about this

Austin catches up to his fellow racers, who suffer from dehydration. Austin gives them water, and the four racers are tied as they near the finish line. It's very exciting! The tape is so strong that they all bounce backwards – twice. As I mentioned, the quality of the race supervision is abysmal. Tasha announces that no one can win until they break the tape. Austin has a pair of scissors in his pack, so he cuts the tape – and wins!

All the racing makes them hungry so they eat chocolate chip cookies.

I couldn’t find any YouTube coverage of this very special episode. However, I did find this clip. It shows some of the Backyardigans’ dance moves, which captures their elegance, versatility, and raw athleticism: